Understanding Religion

I had a very deep and thought-provoking conversation with my bestie today. I’m going to share those thoughts, to the best of my ability, here. I’m going to warn you that it focuses largely on religion and your view will likely differ from mine. If you choose to make an assumption about me or respond, I ask that you completely read what I have to say before doing so.

I have recently been trying to make an actual effort to change myself for the better, as you may have read about in my previous posts. While doing so, I have been reaching within myself to learn about my beliefs and what makes me who I am. I am trying to become secure in the person that I am and choose to be and stand by my beliefs, even if they are potentially incorrect. We are only human and part of being human is continually changing and evolving. You cannot better yourself unless you are open to change and being told you are wrong. Part of growing is learning. My views are always changing and that’s okay. I am allowed to change my mind and so are you. I do not think that someone should ever say, “this is the way it has always been done and this is how I’m going to do it” or “this is just how I was raised and taught.” I think people should question things, especially if it is important to you. You should strive to learn about something and make the decision to do it or believe in something because it is YOUR CHOICE, and not a decision that someone or something has made for you.

With that being said, I grew up around Christian faith. We were not in church every Sunday or even very often at all. In my 5th year of school, I attended a private Christian school. As I got a little older, I would attend Wednesday night services with friends. I was taught about God and Jesus and the basics of being a Christian. Present day, I occasionally attend Sunday church. I have always somewhat identified myself as Christian in viewpoint, although I have never been baptised. I do pray to Jesus/God, but not regularly. I’ll be honest, I do not know much about Christianity. I cannot quote the Bible. I am not even completely knowledgeable about some of the basic and well known stories that even children know.

I have been wanting to go to church and try and learn more about the Christian faith and what exactly it means to be a Christian. I have tried to do so on my own, but I get so frustrated because I’ll read something that I don’t agree with or fully understand and stop. Ironically enough, a really good friend of mine, invited me to try a new church with him this past Sunday. I, of course, said yes. It is quite a large church and a little intimidating though. I felt a little awkward during the singing since it’s not natural for me, but I tried to really focus on the words being sung and the message from the preacher. The sermon was part three of a series explaining the mission of the church and what it means to be a growing disciple. There was a moment when those baptised were invited to participate in taking in the body and blood of Christ. In the moment, I wasn’t completely sure if you had to be baptized or not to participate and I was beyond anxious. My thoughts were running on fast forward and I was trying to decided whether or not I should participate. I was scared that I would be judged and feel embarrassed if I didn’t. My friend asked me if I was going up there and I repeated the question to him. He said yes and stood. I waved him past me and stayed seated. I was so anxious that I was sweating and wanted to cry. I stayed calm and listened to the message. When it came down to it, I wasn’t comfortable participating because I have not been baptised and it didn’t feel right to participate in something that I still have so many questions about. Although, I was so embarrassed on the inside, I stayed true to what I believed right and I didn’t want to do something just because everyone else was doing it. I did what was right for me and stayed true to myself. By the way, no one looked at me weird or laughed at me. No one judged me. My feelings were all fears from the inside. No one made me feel uncomfortable.

The preacher talked about becoming a disciple of Christ and how you shouldn’t do so just because others are. You shouldn’t just take someone else’s word. You should seek out Christ for yourself. If you have questions and doubts, you should address them. I really liked that and I want to see about attending some study sessions that were listed because I do have a lot of questions and doubts and I would like to be better informed. I want to learn about Christianity because it is something that is important to me and I’m tired of not fully understanding.

I don’t know where I stand on religion. I know what I have been taught, but I cannot blindly believe in something that I don’t fully understand. My thoughts are:

if I am truly a good person and I strive to continue to be a good person, if I try to better others and the world around me and not bring harm, then I don’t know how any god would damn me to Hell or wherever. My issue with my experiences with the Bible is that it is very contradictory at times and that makes it very frustrating to follow. I am told that you should fear God, but why if he is this forgiving and loving God? If I am meant to worship and live for God and not myself, then what is the point of this current life?

Let me explain further what I mean by this. I already know I am striking a match and tossing it into kerosene with the following example and comparison that I am going to use. It’s the best way that I know how to explain what I am trying to say though. I am not saying the two are equal! Here is the best simplification I can give:

Hitler was a leader and ruler. People were suppose to follow him and do as he said. He wanted to kill a lot of innocent people based on his beliefs. Had everyone did exactly as he said, then the world would be a lot different. Sometimes leaders are wrong and it takes someone standing up for their beliefs and fighting back for what is right. Now apply the same concept to God. He is the leader and ruler. People are suppose to follow him and do as he says. I am suppose to worship him and live only by what he says. It doesn’t matter if I’m a good person; if I don’t live as he says I should live, then I am going to Hell.

That is where my issue is. I cannot fathom a god feeling that way, especially a forgiving and loving God. IF God is that way, then I have some issues and I feel that he is wrong. Before you go sending me hate mail, please try and understand. I am not saying that God is wrong because I don’t have all of the facts, nor do I have the luxury of asking God himself. If you are Christian, even thinking something like that is probably considered blasphemy. I am not trying to turn people from religion. DO NOT BASE YOUR BELIEFS OFF READING ANYTHING IN THIS POST. If this brings up questions for you, then I encourage you to search for answers and do what is right for you and what you believe.

To touch on some other things that rub me the wrong way when speaking of Christianity and viewpoints… Gay marriage is a big and controversial topic right now. I am not 100 percent sure if marriage is a Christian belief. I do know that the government and law of the land has made it a human belief. Christians are not the only people that get married. Everyone around the world gets married. If marriage was a Christian thing then I could completely understand it being between one man and one man and a unity between the two. However, the law of the land has made it something that affects your life beyond religion. Your taxes, all legal documents, and even your possessions are affected by it. Therefore, I don’t think it is anyone’s right to say that two men shouldn’t be married or two women shouldn’t be married. If you are not gay or lesbian then it does not affect your life. Let people marry who they want to marry and go about your business. If you believe that it is between a man and women then good for you. There is nothing wrong with that. There is enough hate in this world. If someone is trying to add some love to it, then by all means go for it, in my opinion.

I would also like to add a tidbit about abortion. I was speaking with the same friend, that I went to church with, a few days ago about this topic. He is pro life and I am pro choice. He said that he believes everything happens for a reason and that abortion shouldn’t be allowed. My response was that if he believed that everything happened for a reason, and since abortion is still legal in places, did he feel that way about the babies that are aborted… that it happened for a reason. His response was a no and that he did not think God ever meant for anyone to be killed. If he believes that then he does not believe that everything happens for a reason. I am fairly certain that he supports our troops and war, so if he believes that God doesn’t mean for anyone to be killed then what about the soldiers risking their lives and eliminating the enemy? They are very contradicting thoughts. I am not bashing his view or anyone else’s. I am no where near perfect and contradicting, at times, myself. I am trying to learn and understand though.

Now to speak about the Bible, itself. I wish, oh how I wish, I had access to the Vatican and the original scrolls. I wish I could understand all of the different languages so I could read the original word of God for myself. Nevertheless, I can’t. There are so many different languages and when translated they don’t always mean the same thing. Humans, themselves, interpret everything differently. So, to put all my trust into a book written by all these different humans that interpret things in different ways is hard for me to do. If you have studied foreign languages then you know that there are some words and phrases that can’t even be fully translated. I realize that there were all these scholars and such that translated the Bible, but who am I to say they were correct? I want to believe they are and that it is the actual word, but I have my doubts. Speaking from an American perspective, we live in a world where everything we do and say is based off of the media and news. We aren’t always given the full story and we are fed to act and dress whatever way is deemed “fashionable” at the time. I don’t want to think that someone came along and purposefully, or accidentally even, mistranslated the Bible for ulterior motives. Don’t call me a conspiracy theorist. I am not. I would not have spent this much time trying to sort my thoughts out into this post if this wasn’t something that is important to me.

Christianity is the religion that I am currently trying to focus on. My goal is to read the Bible in it’s entirety and understand it to the best of my ability. I am open to learning about other religions and even if you believe fully in a certain religion, I think it’s healthy to be knowledgeable about the other religions. Christians, themselves, can be so judgemental. I just had a friend the other day say that he didn’t really know what he believed. He was raised Christian, but Christians were so judgemental and it rubbed him the wrong way. I told him to not turn from a religion strictly because of the people that make up the religion. Making mistakes is human nature. He should focus on the message of the religion itself and apply it to himself as opposed to how the people act.

Please don’t send me hate mail. It will be deleted and ignored if you do. If you want to talk further with me about any of this, I encourage you to do so and I would like to hear what your viewpoint is. If you feel the need to attack me, refrain. If you would like to have a conversation, then by all means. Information should be shared and talked about, not pushed down throats or blindly ignored because there is disagreement.

honestly,
me

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A Full Heart

My heart is full tonight. I spent the evening fishing and enjoy some sunshine with the bestie. I only caught one fish, catch and release, but I had a blast. It was so nice out. I then went and spent some time with a friend that I haven’t seen in a short while. That was nice as well. Overall, it was a great day. It’s a beautiful night. If I weren’t so sleepy and it so late, I’d be inclined to sit outside and soak it in.

My day (that I previously wrote about) got slightly better. I ended up talking with my bestie and spilling my woes. It was good to talk about it. Everyone has bad days. It’s okay to have a bad day. Sometimes you just have to have those days where you don’t do much. You shouldn’t get so down on yourself, like I tend to do. Wake the next day and try to have a better day. Some days all you can do is try.

I’m feeling motivated again about life. I want to try new things and work toward finding a career that I can put my time into. My friend said he’d look over my resume and help me “perfect” it as much as possible. I’m ready to start living. I think I have some new friendships budding. It’s too early to tell, but I’m having an open and hopeful mind. I might get to go to a little festival tomorrow with my bestie and a couple other people. I plan to ride on a motorcycle for the first time Saturday. I’m super nervous but, like I said, I’m trying new things. Sunday, the friend I spent time with tonight and I are wanting to try out a new church. We plan to do that Sunday morning and then go fishing. I’m hoping for a really good weekend. I need to fit some time in to do my free online classes since I’m slightly slacking on those deadlines.

Tonight, I’m thankful for good days and the friendships I have. I’m thankful for days that fill my heart.

honestly,
me

Struggling

My eyes are like a leaky faucet that I can’t seem to fix today. I got back home yesterday from visiting with family. I had a conversation with my friend on the way home and was so pumped about the ways I am trying to change my life for the better. Most of those ways start mentally and by changing my way of thinking to a more positive one. I preached and preached how I was different now. I was going to be able to get my life in order, so to speak, because now I had the positive mentality behind it. I told her that I knew I would still have bad days and times where I fell backward, but now I recognized those times and I would persevere.

Today is a hard day. Why, you might ask. I simply woke up this way. I know I made another post similar to this just days ago, but here I am again. It is so hard. I have tears streaming down my face and I’m so frustrated. It’s so simple, right? Just be better. Get up and do something. Make yourself feel better. I preach these same things to other people in the same situation, but here I am and it’s not so easy. I know it’s mental. I recognize the situation. I am also so drained mentally and physically today.

I’m running through a list in my head of things that I could be doing: updating my resume and putting it online, organizing my room, and the list goes on for days. I could update my resume without even getting out of bed. So, why is it so hard? I don’t have the answer to that question and I am so frustrated. I tried writing in my journal (I’m trying to utilize it more instead of typing in a private one on the computer), but I didn’t have much to say. I started reading my current self-help book, but then I decided I was going to come here and write about my frustrations. I don’t want to only post the positive highs here and leave out my lows. It wouldn’t be genuine. I want you to know that I fail too. Just because you think you have a foolproof idea doesn’t mean there aren’t holes in it. Part of life is making mistakes and being able to own up to them. Part of life is being able to admit your failures, or at least recognize them and move forward.

Sometimes you recognize all you have to be thankful for in life. I don’t want to lay here and be upset today. I know my life could be so much worse, but I can’t seem to find the energy today. I think more than anything, I’m just frustrated with myself because the concept of just choosing to do something and be happy seems so simple. Just do. And I can’t seem to do it.

This is where I am at this point in my day. I plan to read some more in my book and then I’m not sure after that. I’m hoping that I will have some positivity to add later, even if it’s a simple, I persevered. If you’ve had some of the same struggles and have any advice that helped you, I’m open to suggestions. I know everyone takes information in differently and different things work for different people, but it could be helpful.

honestly,
me

Keep Fighting

I wonder why some days are a struggle as soon as you wake in the morning, before you even open your eyes. I suppose it could have to do greatly with your subconscious… the dreams you had while sleeping even if you don’t recall them. It’s so frustrating though when you’ve been doing really good and focusing on positivity. Then you wake and have to start the day fighting before your feet even hit the ground.

I tell myself it’s all mental. It’s just a test to see if I can hold on or if I’m going to fall back into the hole and have to start my climb out all over again. There are days like today when I recognize these things and I have the strength to continue fighting, to lift my head and say, I will prevail. But what do I do on the days where I wake and the fight is too much, when I feel like I’m fighting an endless battle with no sign of peace?

It’s easy for me to say that I will keep fighting, but I know how it feels to be in that moment and not want to even get out of the bed. You don’t care anymore. It all seems pointless. I also know that those moments pass. I have to make an effort every day to reflect on the moments and find the good in them and let go of the bad. Not only that, but I have to reflect on where I’m at in life and what I’m thankful for, even if it’s not where I want to be. And on those days when the fight is too much, I HAVE to continue to do those things even if I don’t want to, even if I see no point. It is most critical then. I am hoping that by creating positive habits, they will eventually become effortless and part of every day life.

Steel is forged in fire. It all comes down to what you’re made of. It’s not the situation or circumstance that defines you. It’s what you’re made of that says how you will define the situation. Don’t let the world burn you. Let it mold you into something better.

honestly,
me

Coming Together

Today has been a really good day. It was rainy and dreary out, but there were breaks in the weather. My middle brother and I went to the park and swung. It was so much fun. I haven’t done that in years. There was no one there because of the weather. So, we had the place to ourselves. I haven’t spent “real” time with my brother in years. We’ve been around each other, but this was different. It was just he and I laughing and talking. It brought me back to my childhood and it was really nice. He has been “gone” for a really long time and now he’s trying to better himself. I truly hope he’s able to. I miss him, the real him. Change is hard and trying to change bad habits in a not so healthy environment is even harder. I hope he perseveres. My Mom and I are staying the night at my youngest brother’s house tonight. We’re going to watch my niece while he works and his fiancée attends to her plans tomorrow. Speaking of my sweet, little adorable niece. She said my name for the first time today! I was so super excited. I don’t get to see her often so it totally made my day. I played with her a lot and took some videos and pictures of her being cute. She is one of the sweetest kids. She’s happy almost all the time. She eats like a champ and usually goes to bed without any fuss. She is growing like a weed!

I was looking at her tonight and thinking how pure and honest she is, how all children are like that. (She’s one and a half, by the way.) They just want to be loved. They don’t see hate or discriminate. They are love. I wish more people were like that in the world. There would be no judgement. Children really are such precious little things.

On a different note, I’m really proud of myself today. For one, I’ve been able to appreciate my day in the moment and keep my thoughts positive. Two, I’ve kept myself out of drama. There were a couple moments today where I could have stuck my nose in a place that didn’t concern me, and I almost did, but I thought before I spoke and kept my mouth closed. Not every battle is mine. There was also a moment where I could have “gossiped” pointless information just to talk. It was completely unimportant and not necessary for the other party to know. It’s so easy to want to mindlessly share negative information, and today I stopped myself and didn’t. These may seem like minor things, but they are huge to me.

I was reading about forgiveness today and how even a single unforgiven person in your life can be the cause of your destruction and unhappiness. In order to be truly settled, you have to forgive EVERY single person in your life. In a way, forgiveness is really a “selfish” act. You don’t have to condone what the other person has done to you, but you can forgive them for yourself. By not forgiving them, you give them control over you every single time you are revisited by how they hurt you. Take that control back by letting them go and letting the pain they caused you go.

The book I was reading also talked about how you should forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for everything you’ve done. You can’t move forward with your life if you continue to visit all the reasons why you aren’t worthy of having a successful / happy life. It was quite insightful to say the least. If you’re having problems with forgiveness in your life and you want to overcome them, then please let me know. I am no expert, by any means, but I can point you to a resource that is really helping me. Plus, I don’t mind being an extra set of ears if you need some. Don’t let the people that hurt or wronged you for whatever reason continue to have control over your life. If you’re like me, don’t stand in your own way of success either. I don’t mean to preach. I just wanted to share some things that really stuck with me from my reading.

honestly,
me

Thankful– A Boring Day

Tonight, I reconnected with a friend of mine and it made me really happy. I went from having a somewhat down in the dumps day to feeling pretty good about this day. It’s all about perspective and I’m still trying so very hard to have a positive outlook more times than not. I wish I would have appreciated this day more in the moment as opposed to at the very end of it. Nothing extravagant happened and I was relatively bored. Now that I’m reflecting on my day, I see the significance of this boring day.

Here’s how it went:  I woke up and went to work with my Dad for a bit. That included riding around with him and checking on some jobs and such. We also had to pick some things up from Home Depot and I scratched my hands all to heck on some type of wiring. I spent the rest of the day at my Grandma’s, with my Dad, in front of the TV and on my computer. We grabbed some Dairy Queen for dinner.

Doesn’t sound like a really interesting day, right? That’s correct in some ways, but here’s why I’m thankful for this boring day. I got to spend some time with my Dad. Granted a lot of it was spent not really talking and us doing our own thing, but we were in each other’s presence nevertheless. I live out of state and don’t see my family as often as I’d like or should. Every moment that I’m able to spend with them is important. One day, I’m going to look back on these boring days and wish I could give all the money in the world just to have a sliver of that moment back. I pray that day is a long, long time from now.

I’m laying here on my Grandma’s couch with her little doggy beside me. Crickets are playing in the background and all else is silent except for the clicking of my keyboard. It’s the wee hours of the morning and I should be sound asleep, but I’m really soaking in how thankful I am. Just a few hours ago I was feeling melancholy all because I couldn’t get out of my head. Now, I’m overwhelmingly thankful for the same reasons I was bored earlier. Forgive me if I’m repetitive. I am a wee bit tired.

If I could have you take something from this post, it would be to live in the moment. Appreciate each and every thing even if it seems uneventful. Life is all about perspective. It reminds me of the example of going back in the future in movies and such. You have to make sure to stay on the path and not move off for even the slightest moment. If you were to harm even one tiny little insignificant mosquito, you could alter the entire future for the whole of humanity. Moments that seem irrelevant now could become some of your most significant memories later in life. So, make them all count.

honestly,
me

Scorched Ink

I live in the strokes of ink that leave my pen.
I’m not sure where I’m going, only where I’ve been.
I inhale hope and exhale hate.
I don’t want to be defined by my mistakes.
I feel lost, without map or compass–
Always waiting for a missed bus.
I have the world at the tip of my fingers.
Scared to reach for fear of blisters
Because the closeness burns
And the pain isn’t something I can unlearn.

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Hello world!

As I stare at this blank screen, while lounging in sweats, I wonder what I should tell you about myself. I glance out the glass doors to a dimly lit grassy incline as the TV drones on in the background mixed with my Dad’s snoring. I’ve attempted so many blogs for various reasons, but I never seem to stick with them. I want this one to be different. I want this to be a place that I can be honest with myself and anyone who reads. That means things might not always be pretty. It also means that I’m opening myself up to criticism from complete strangers. People can be cruel and I wonder if opening myself up like this is a smart idea especially when I am constantly changing every minute of every day. Nevertheless, I’m doing it.

This blog is going to be a mix of everything from poetry to photographs to a basic journal of my life. I am currently reading a book titled, Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Brian Tracy. I am only a few chapters in, but man is it powerful! I have been going through a lot of emotional turmoil recently because of everything from failed relationships to being unemployed. I have felt more hopeless lately than I ever remember feeling in my life. It blows my mind how much my own thoughts can impact my world. Just because you’re presented with an unfortunate or unwanted circumstance, that doesn’t mean you have to let it ruin your day, month, or life. I’ll be the first to admit that my emotions usually rule my life. They dictate how my day goes and how well I sleep at night or not. It impacts the way I treat others. Recently, those things have been impacted negatively and I don’t like it. I don’t like who I am when I let my emotions rule me. Instead of wallowing in bed going unshowered for days, I’m tryinug to make an actual effort to change my life for the better. It may seem like I’m raving for this book, but that’s not the case. I had been making an unconscious effort to block the negativity from my life. I was laying in bed last night and couldn’t sleep. I had this book on my phone and the title caught my attention so I started reading. It’s like you’ve been on a road for miles and miles feeling like you’re going in the right direction but not completely sure, and then you see a sign that tells you you’re on the right path. I’ll keep you updated on my thoughts of the book and, of course, my progress.

I must also state that I really need to work on my personal relationships, family being a big one. I seem to shut them out because I don’t want them to worry about me and I can come off in a very negative way. I don’t want there to be tension with the most important people in my life and I, but surprisingly those are my hardest relationships. I am going to make them a priority to repair.

I am also trying to stop mindless gossip and being judgemental even in playful ways. I never want to hurt someone. I never want someone to feel less because of something I said or did. I know I can’t please everyone, but I don’t want to intentionally bring harm when I can help it. I have been at the wrong end of gossip and it really hurts and is extremely uncomfortable. Every single person on this planet has their own struggles. It’s time we start helping one another stand as opposed to knocking each other down.

This may seem a little heavy for a first, ‘Hello world!’, post but this is what’s on my mind. So, here’s some background information about me:

  • College graduate –> BAB in International Business
  • Currently unemployed for like 1.5 months (Ahh! I have no idea what I am doing or what I want to do)
  • I love nature and almost all bodies of water (ocean being my fave)
  • I write poetry (An English teacher would probably slash through my writings with lots of red ink)
  • I like taking pictures
  • Writing and reading are huge hobbies of mine
  • Besides the book previously stated, I’m also reading the Stephanie Plum series
  • I’m terrified of snakes and storms, but enjoy a peaceful rain
  • Country music will always be my fave even though I dabble in almost all genres
  • I would love to travel the world and see as much as possible
  • Costa Rica is the only other country I’ve been to besides the USA
  • I really want more GENUINE friendships. That area of my life is really lacking. If you would like to help me change that then please, by all means. I just ask you be real and honest. I’ll do the same.
  • I am shy and socially awkward
  • I think this world needs more love and kindness

If there’s anything else you would like to know, then please feel free to ask. I’ll answer anything I feel comfortable with. Join me in trying to make this a happier, better world filled with kindness and love.

honestly,
me